The EPOSbed™ product consists of a specialty bed with automatic positioning, driven by intelligent software. EPOSbed™ allows patients with limited mobility to change their position in bed without the need of assistance from hospital personnel. In EPOSbed™, the patient is able to command the movements of the bed with slight body movements. No need to use a remote controller or human assistance.
Intelligent software permanently monitors the pressure map of a mat sensor embedded into the mattress of the bed. The software detects and anticipates in real-time the patient's intention to move and acts consequently. Bed movements are smooth, interactive and reliable since the system is performing continuous control from the feedback signals of the patient. In order to move in one direction, the patient just needs to move slightly and naturally in this direction. To stop an initiated movement, it is sufficient to do a similar pressure in the opposite direction. In consequence, the interface with the bed actuators is straightforward and well suited for persons with reduced mobility. In addition, the EPOSbed™ system offers a complete remote controller to be used by caregivers.
The EPOSbed™ system was validated in pre-clinical trials with different types of persons; including: man and women, different weights and different heights. Results from these tests have been very successful since, almost without any exception, all people interviewed recognized EPOSbed™ is a natural and attractive way to interface with the bed.
Figure 1- A 3D model of the mechanical EPOSbed prototype
As part of the EPOSbed™ system, we have developed an innovative bed frame (see Figure 1); able to do the required movements in a hospital environment. The bed, designed using CAD and cutting-edge simulation techniques, is composed of a hospital bed frame moved by intelligent servo-actuators. Either using the intelligent software or the remote controller, the bed is able to do the following movements:
- Lateral movement. Lateral movement allows the patient to rotate left and right along the main axis of the bed. Lateral movement may be requested by patients desiring to change their position or may be scheduled by caregivers on a periodic basis (i.e. at night). Lateral movement is also useful when cleaning a patient. Due to safety reasons, the maximum rotation angle is restricted to 60º. The system automatically folds the lateral panels when in a step angle to avoid falling of the patient. Lateral movement is an innovation in hospital beds, since few products offer this kind of movement and none of them has available intelligent movement detectors; such as EPOSbed™ does.
- Fowler movement. This movement allows to control together a sitting position with a leg and foot movement. A locking hinge allows the lower section to lift. This is probably the movement more demanded by patients since it allows them to incorporate at different positions.
- Tredelenburg. This movement is basically designed to improve blood circulation in patients. Again the movement can be demanded by patients or caregivers indistinctly.
An important element of the EPOSbed™ system is the pressure mat sensor. The mat, composed of around 1.000 individual sensors, is embedded into the bed mattress. It is passive (i.e. has no electronics), flexible, washable and very robust. A patient laid on the bed exerts a pressure on each sensor. The information from the pressure mat is transformed into a pressure image. The intelligent software analyses in real time the pressure pattern and decide the most convenient intention to move. The software then commands the servo actuators and moves the bed to the desired position.
Figure 2 - Screenshot of the intelligent software GUI showing the pressure maps
The intelligent software (prototype interface shown in Figure 2) is based on image processing algorithms and artificial neural networks, a well-known Artificial Intelligence technique. It is capable of interpreting pressure changes in the vast majority of the patients and making fast decisions according to the sensors information. See in Figure 3 the final prototype of the product.
Figure 3 - A patient using the final prototype of the EPOSbed system